Discover an exceptional wildlife familiarity with visiting the south western Uganda where stand an olden(over 25000 years) outstanding green luxuriant bandage of massive thick tropical rain trees situated across the fault scarps of the western arm of the great east African rift valley nearby to the Albertine region – the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Derives its name due to its impenetrable (thick) nature of dark, knotted flora over concavely and complex ridged mountainous landscape.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has four sectors:
- the northern part or Buhoma Sector in Kanungu district,
- the southern part or Rubuguri in Kisoro district
- the eastern part or Ruhija Sector in Kabale district.
- Nkuringo Sector
The forest is noted to be a habitat of about 120 mammals including several primates, reptiles, butterflies and birds among others. Primate species that can commonly be spotted include mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, black and white colobus, blue colobus monkeys , grey –cheeked mangabey, L,Hoest’s monkeys, baboons amongst others. Though there are many attractions in Bwindi, the celebrity primate is the mountain gorillas where by the forest is recorded to inhabit more than half of the world’s totals.
For birders, this thick jungle is ranked to be the number one birding spot harboring over 350 different bird species of which 23 species are the highly localized Albertine Rift endemics. Notable species include the ground hornbill.
Just outside the forest there live the ancient pygmy people of Batwa tribe who will show you the greatest level of hospitality that you won’t even hesitate not to tell your friends about.
- Adventure Activities not to be missed;
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is the most popular of all Uganda’s national parks and gorilla trekking is the main adventure activity attracting tourists! Since the forest has 14 habituated gorilla groups, this is the most reliable location for mountain gorilla trekking. each group can be tracked by only 8 tourists. Gorilla permits have to be pre-booked from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) offices in Kamwokya – Kampala.
These groups can be tracked from four trailheads. The groups open for gorilla trekking are Nkuringo, Nshoji, Kahungye and Mishaya in the eastern part, Rushegura, Mubare, and Habiyanja in the northern part and Bitukura and Oruzogo in the eastern part though some of these have not yet been opened officially.
Other activities that are recommended to be engaged in on a gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi also include the guided forest walks that are readily available whereby the most popular trail leads you to a waterfall; for birders, this should be the first destination on your tour itenary not forgetting chimpanzee trackers and other categories of scholar and scientific researchers.
Community walks outside the forest are also always prepared that will provide you with an insight into the lives of both the Bakiga and Batwa (pygmy) peoples living beside the forest.
Once your guide has picked you from Kampala, you can also make a stopover at the Equator near Masaka Town which is an astonishing photographic spot as well as a knowledge acquisition center through the informative talks. Continue with the journey while enjoying tremendous views together with the triangular peaks of the Virunga volcanoes of Rwanda and the D.R. Congo.
- How to get there;
This impenetrable forest is in the south of Queen Elizabeth national park which can take 2-3 hours drive. If you are in Kabale town, it can take 1-2 hours drive or also Bwindi can be reached direct from the Uganda capital city Kampala through Mbarara which can take a nonstop drive of 6 ½ – 8 ½ hours.
Or you can travel by bus or Ugandan so called taxis (Matatu) from Kampala to Kabale for roughly Ush 15,000 and then hire a car at about 100,000 to Butogota that is 18km to Buhoma or take a pick up because most public means of transport in those regions are unpredictable.
Most routes require the use of 4×4 vehicles most especially in wet seasons and a reasonable degree of fitness as well as a sturdy pair of walking shoes for most activities in the forest.
You can use the clean and simple bandas in Buhoma or utilize the 3 privately run campsites in the area along with some middle and up-market tented camps.
- Advise for the gorilla trackers
As time for the trek is approaching, before 8:00 am you are advised first to report to the ranger station either in Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura or Nkuringo for registration depending on which group you will be tracking the gorillas with. Talk to one of the many rangers around to brief you about the activity. Let the guides take you through the trek (½ – 5 hours) into the forest while pushing your way through the undergrowth and parting thick creepers, to track the gorillas.
It will be a memorable feeling spending your time in such an impenetrable forest with the few last remaining (about 650 in the whole world) mountain gorillas our 98% close cousins.